Looks like Uber is prepping to play by Portland's rules—at least for now.
The ride-sharing company on March 26 paid $67,750 in fines to the city, according to Dylan Rivera, a spokesman for the Bureau of Transportation. The city levied the fines in December, after Uber launched service without the city's permission.
"We believe the industry is interested in complying," Rivera said today. "Uber recently provided payment to the city for all fines, and we think that shows the company has an interest in operating with permits in the city of Portland."
Mike Greenfield and Joan Plank—both members of PBOT's Private for-Hire Transportation Innovation Task Force, the volunteer group that's been trying to come up with operational regulations for transportation network companies (TNCs) like Uber and Lyft—on Monday afternoon spoke at a briefing to explain the task force's recommended regulations for a 120-day pilot program (also referred to by organizers as "Phase One") that will allow TNCs to operate legally within Portland.
"We believe this is an opportunity for us to compare two business systems, so that in Phase Two we can come up with a more detailed regulatory structure," Greenfield said. "We'll be able to learn more during this pilot program."
The task force will present their 20-page report to commissioners at a city council meeting Thursday. Among the more controversial recommendations the task force will make include allowing Uber drivers to operate under different (and traditional taxi drivers say unfair) insurance standards and placing no cap on what Uber drivers can charge while restricting taxi rates to less than $2.60 per mile.
"The problem is that Uber can undercut our rates, too," said Darin Campbell, a driver for Radio Cab who is also the taxi driver representative on PBOT's Private for-Hire Transportation Board of Review. "Right now Uber is offering drivers a $100 bonus if they can get their cars inspected by Wednesday. We can't do that."
Uber in December agreed to suspend business in Portland until April 9, giving the city time to put operational regulations in place.
Portland City Council on April 15 will vote to enact some, or all, of the task force's recommended regulations. A full version of the draft recommendations can be viewed here.